We’ve all seen the Night of the Living Dead where unsuspecting civilians are turned into mindless drones that roam around slowly looking to eat brains. These mindless drones are referred to as zombies and as scary as the movie is, it is even scarier to think that your own personal computer can be turned into a mindless drone roaming around looking for not brains, but many times trouble. Your drone of a computer is now what is known as a “zombie computer” and is doomed to do the bidding of not you the owner, but a hacker that you have unwittingly let in. So what exactly is a zombie computer and how do you avoid having your computer become one?
A zombie computer is one that has been taken over by a hacker that has gained access to the computer using what is referred to as “rootkits.” Not all rootkits are bad, but the ones that the hackers use are designed only to gain access to your computer to lead it blindly into doing their bidding, hence the name “zombie computer.” Once your computer is a zombie, the hacker will have full access to the hard drive and can copy, infect, corrupt or even erase it if they so desire. The hacker can then also install tools that will report things such as user names, passwords and even bank and credit card information. All this is done without you the user ever knowing what is going on. As scary as that all is, your zombie computer can also be used as one of many drones that are used together to form a huge zombie computer army called a “botnet.” A botnet can be comprised of literally millions of zombie computers and can be used to illegally send spam, attack websites, commit phishing scams or even commit click fraud. Again this is all done without you ever knowing what is happening (source: wisegeek.com). But what can be done to stop this from happening to you?
There are several things you can do to help reduce the risk of having your computer turned into a mindless zombie computer. First of all, never install any program from a source that you don’t trust. It is also very wise to make sure that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is current and always be sure to keep them updated with the latest downloads available. You can also help reduce your risk by simply deleting spam e-mails without opening them and if you don’t know who sent you an e-mail that doesn’t come through as spam, delete that too. Curiosity killed the cat, but it may turn your computer into a zombie computer. Finally use your firewall, it’s there for a reason (source: wisegeek.com). Be smart, be aware and don’t let your computer be turned into a mindless zombie computer.